Graham, Tom and Ian

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Seashell Trust plans expansion – and housing

by Lib Dem team on 31 July, 2015

Mark Geraghty, the Chief Executive of the Seashell Trust, came to speak to councillors in a public meeting at the Town Hall. He was setting out his plans – still at an early stage – for the charity.

Founded in 1823, the Trust is one of the leading bodies caring for profoundly disabled (mostly deaf-blind) young people. It takes in children from 44 local authorities from Kent to Scotland. It has two schools. The Royal School looks after children aged from 2 to 19. In theory it can take 60 pupils, but due to limitations of the building the current maximum is 50.

The Royal College looks after 19-25 year olds in a much more modern building. Both school and college are rated outstanding by Ofsted and are world-leaders in deaf-blind disabilities. Of this year’s 25 leavers, half are going into employment – not a bad result for any institution, but very impressive for one where the students are profoundly deaf-blind and often have severe learning difficulties.

Based in Heald Green, the Seashell Trust employs more than 500 people, making it one of the largest employers in the borough. They are currently building houses where more children can be cared for on-site, and learn a high degree of self-sufficiency.

The plan

The Seashell Trust is having to turn away severely disabled children through lack of room. The school is outdated, designed to meet the needs of different children from a different era and suffering from old age. Chief Executive Mark Geraghty believes the school will become unviable in five years unless something is done.

His plan is to demolish the existing school and build a new one on the same site. The new school would be state-of-the-art, able to cater for 60 children rather than 50, and would secure the work of the Trust for years to come. Along the school Mark wants a new sports hall, conference hall, additional parking and other improvements.

The price

Building a new state-of-the-art school for profoundly disabled young people doesn’t come cheap. The Seashell Trust estimates the whole project will cost between £30 million and £37 million – money they don’t have. They believe that they can raise a good deal from reserves and fundraising, but up to £30 million might need to be raised by other means.

The Seashell Trust own the fields to the north of their site: all the green land between the A34 and Wilmslow Road going up to Sydall Road to Bradshaw Hall Lane in Heald Green. If they could develop that land for general housing they believe it would bring in the money they need to build the new school and develop the charity.

And there lies the challenge! All the land is in the green belt for a start. Development on the green belt can be permitted, but only in exceptional circumstances. Keeping the charity, and its excellent work, going could be just such a circumstance but that’s all got to be discussed.

Plus, raising that sort of money from a land sale would mean hundreds of new houses being built on those fields and all the usual questions about traffic and local resources would need to considered. Like everywhere else in the country, Stockport is required by the government to build new houses (and we need them too) but that doesn’t mean building anywhere.

The Seashell Trust understand these issues, which is why they’re being open and coming to speak to us early. Their employees were told about the proposals today and – with their agreement –  we’re telling the public too.

The next stage is the for the Trust to develop more detailed proposals for us all to look at.



13 Responses

  1. Garry says:

    I think this is an admirable plan. Green belt it may be but it is in the middle of suburbia. I think they should aim to keep a strip along the bypass, it would help keep Road noise down for those houses nearest to it, keep a wildlife corridor and have a walk way through. Access could be from the A34 on the roundabout at Eden Park Road. If provision were made for a percentage of affordable housing that would also benefit the area. I’m sure many will have objections but I hope these can be overcome.

  2. Graham says:

    Overcome? or ignored?

  3. Phil Johnson says:

    It will be ironic if SMBC fails to facilitate house building to allow this project after taking great pains to ensure that a bunch of semi-professional footballers can continue to entertain less than 1% of our population on a Saturday afternoon.

  4. Afzal Chaudhri says:

    SEASHELL has an excellent past record of providing a fantastic service, where it is needed most > those children who desperately need help.

    SeaShell proposal to use the green belt, which they own, for housing must be allowed. I love to see this housing scheme come thro.
    I fully support SeaShell on this project and wish them success.


    Afzal Chaudhri

  5. Polly says:

    When the land was purchased what made the difference between ‘land’ and ‘greenbelt land’, were there any conditions agreed to?

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi Polly,

      No idea about conditions (but I doubt anything significant – not common back then). The designation of greenbelt land is simply where whoever made the decision drew the line on the map back in the 1960s. Most greenbelt land is rightly designated (in my opinion) but not all. I’ve not looked at this land though.

  6. […] reported back in July that the Seashell Trust wants to expand and redevelop large parts of the school, and believes they […]

  7. Di Shonfield says:

    Have you been round there at 5pm recently? It’s a car park. There is no capacity for hundreds of extra cars, because let’s face it, no one is going to use the bus. This is not an isolated building project – it should be considered in conjunction with other plans and impact on traffic in a wide area

  8. Nigel Hersee says:

    The loss of green belt and the environmental impact on wildlife would be considerable.

    This is a badly put together plan by smooth talk men in suits and ignores the impact on residents. In particular the traffic flow on the current Wilmslow Rd.

    Whilst the Trust does exceedingly good work. This is a pure capital venture.

  9. Heald Green resident says:

    The impact of such a large scale development of housing in this location would be considerable. Just a few cars waiting to use the nearby car washing facility is a serious traffic hazard.
    Furthermore, surely the designation of land as green belt should mean just that. People buy their homes with this understanding.
    Although undoubtedly the work of the Trust is fantastic, their plan for the future should be considered in the context of the future of the many local people who will be impacted by it.

  10. Brian Tolve says:

    The Seashell Trust does brilliant work, BUT this is a really bad place to put hundreds of houses – a few dozen perhaps,but hundreds would be far too much for the road system. Just south, over the border in Cheshire East, we have fighting really hard to try to persuade Cheshire East Council not to release the Green Belt for over four THOUSAND houses in the Handforth an Wilmslow areas. The traffic build-up on the A555 (Manchester Airport Road), and on the A34, will take loading on the A34/A555 roundabouts to about 100% of peak-time capacity EVEN WITHOUT these thousands of extra houses, so every extra new estate will add to the serious congestion. And anyone who goes on this stretch in peak hours, EVEN NOW before the expansion starts, will know just how bad it can be. We should ALL – Stockport and Cheshire East residents – be resisting major developments in this area.

    Cheshire East want to build most of these 4,000 new houses on Green Belt land, but Green Belt can ONLY be released for housing when a LocalPlan is formally revised, and even then,the reasons for it have to be truly exceptional. But there is always the threst that th Govenment will ease the rules about this

  11. Will says:

    One option could be for the Sea Shell Trust to relocate to a new site and then open up the whole site for housing. HOWEVER… the whole of that area needs looking at properly. The Stanley Green retail and industrial parks are not well served by the current road infrastructure. A single narrow lane is not suitable and the volume of traffic would be immense.

    The only way would be to put in new access points from the A34 and from the Airport Link Road for both existing sites and new build and widen Stanley Road to be suitable for the amount of traffic. This means having sufficient cycle and pedestrian routes. Proper traffic management systems and access to public transport which there isn’t at all at the moment. The whole of West Stockport gets gridlocked morning, noon and night. The relief road may help a bit but it’s the Stanley Green roundabouts which cause the problem.

    Sadly the houses on Stanley Road should have been purchased and the site properly developed to allow a calmer traffic system. Councils don’t zone land properly or consider the knock-on impacts. We have the huge next site and 100+ offices on the other side of the relief road as well.

    I appreciate the charity needs to secure funding but at the risk of creating gridlock and inefficient transport routes.

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